I'm back from vacation! I know, it was very brief, but I really only went for the conference and to spend time with my boyfriend. We celebrated our one year anniversary, one month early! I know that may seem like we're jumping the gun, but right now our Christmas plans are really up in the air, so this was the safest bet.
I can honestly say that this was by far, my most stressful trip since moving back home in 2012. I rented a car on Wednesday and drove to my boyfriend's house. It took me 2 hours to find it! The directions I got from Google asked me to go somewhere that made no sense so I drove around and around until I started to cry from frustration. I was lucky to get directions from a lady in Rainbow (the clothing store) on NE 7th St. She was so nice! I was sad that she wasn't there when I went back to thank her.
I was so exhausted when I finally arrived that I just collapsed! I thought I would sleep but I think I was too tired to sleep. And then my boyfriend came home and surprised me with pink roses so I definitely couldn't sleep! It was the first time he had ever gotten me flowers (as much as I had bugged him in the past) so I was super excited!
On Thursday, instead of going shopping, I decided to visit my grand aunt to catch up with her. I decided to save the shopping for Friday when my boyfriend would be off (that went so horribly wrong). Before I knew it, it was time to go to the conference and enjoy the Diamond Lounge. I met the ladies from my church there. Can you believe we had 16 women from my church attend?! Sadly, we were a little underwhelmed by the festivities, but I must admit, the lack of activities was actually more productive in helping us to meet new people from different campuses. We met Sam (the girlfriend of the guy who serenaded us in the Diamond Lounge) and his mother Sandra. They were a delight to talk to!
Pastor Roy Grant and his wife Sheila from the Pensacola campus were so warm and inviting! They had that conference turned up the whole night! The room was full of energy and praise and worship did not disappoint! They played a lot of my favourite songs including This is Our Time and Unstoppable God. Loriann, our speaker, gave a lot of insight on how to be true to yourself and how dangerous comparing yourself to other women can be. She really helped me to focus on what is truly important, especially when it comes to my brand. I got to meet all of the Gramling kids (they're so humble). But night 2 is where things got really funny!
Can you believe I got lost again on the drive home? This time it's because it was so dark I couldn't see the street signs to see that I had missed my turn. Even when I finally made it back to I-95, I missed my exit because they had lane closures for about 4 miles! I was in tears! I was distraught! I found myself in Downtown Miami with no clue of how I got there or how to get out. I tried to flag down people on the road but no one even looked at me. One lady tried to help but she didn't really know how to help me and the light changed so she had to go. I made U-turns, took side corners, nothing seemed to make any sense. I prayed that God would deliver me from this nightmare, that there would be some sign of hope; anything! I finally found what looked like a school with a game going on. I turned off in hopes that I could borrow someone's phone to use their GPS so that I could find my way back. The first person I stopped looked terrified of me and dismissed me completely by saying he didn't know his way around here (completely ignoring my request to use his phone) but at least he had the heart to point me towards a police officer.
I was both relieved and terrified to find a police officer. The numerous reports of gun violence by police officers on innocent black civilians did nothing to appease my fears of being lost, but I still prayed for the best. I was so grateful for his patience and generosity. He took out his GPS and pointed me in the right direction. It turns out that I had I continued down the road I was on, I would eventually find Biscayne and then it would be a straight shot home. At this point, I knew for sure that God had heard my prayers, and in about 30 minutes I was home (but still traumatized).
My boyfriend came with me to night 2 just to make sure I didn't get lost. We never did get to go shopping because we had mismanaged our time so badly (I swear I'm never going with him to another eye appointment, ever again). He waited in the car while I enjoyed meeting more new people at the conference. Sara Conner our speaker, a Jamaican born pastor did a great job at reminding us of how powerful prayer can be and even convinced me that Jesus did squats! She put a hilarious spin on some of her own tragic experiences growing up and made the whole religious experience more relatable. I loved her for that.
The funny part? Pastor Roy gave away a gift basket just before the start of the conference, but there was a catch. You had to be wearing or have bought one of the breast cancer awareness shirts from the gift store at church and you had to be the first person on stage to get the basket. My friend Lithera, being the ever so jungaless that I love her for being, climbed on stage (kicking another lady away in the process), and crawled over to the basket. She almost had it, until a lady from the other side of the stage ran up and literally soccer kicked the basket away! The basket exploded at this point so each woman was able to grab something out of it. So I guess everybody won! Even Pastor Roy was proud of us in that moment! I wish I had caught it on video. I was too busy laughing and cheering her on.
At the risk of this post getting WAAAAY TOO LONG, I'll summarise the rest of the trip. On Saturday after doing very light shopping, I surprised my boyfriend with a trip to Bayside and a sightseeing boat cruise! It combined two of our favourite loves: being on water and people watching. We had a blast walking around like tourists and drinking liquor and ended the evening with our anniversary dinner at Red Lobster.
So while it was a very stressful trip for a few reasons, the good moments definitely outweighed the bad. And now, it's just business as usual!